- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspaper:


September 1

Lexington Herald-Leader on the Affordable Care Act’s effect upon Kentucky:

A Koch-backed political blitz is betting that Kentuckians won’t let health care facts stand in the way of anti-Obama emotion.

The ad launched Monday by Americans for Prosperity could not be more misleading.

And the advocacy group, which was founded by David Koch of the Koch Industries conglomerate and helped fuel the Tea Party movement, is promising to send people to your door to further mislead you.

The only thing the ad gets right is the phone number, as it urges viewers to call Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for governor, to tell him how wrong “Obamacare” has been for Kentucky.

The Democratic president is highly unpopular with Kentuckians. But his signature health care law, enacted by Congress in 2010 and properly known as the Affordable Care Act, has been great for Kentucky.

In the first year of full implementation, the percentage of adult Kentuckians younger than 65 without insurance decreased from 20.4 to 9.8.

Kentucky’s decline in uninsured handily beat the U.S. and neighboring states’ average declines, according to a study by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

As for Kentucky’s hospitals, which the Koch ad claims are in “crisis,” the influx of newly insured patients produced more than a half-billion dollars in new revenue the first year and a huge decrease in bad debts.

Uncompensated care - when hospitals are not paid for their services - is down 70 percent since the 2014 launch of Kynect, the state health insurance exchange, and the Medicaid expansion.

Health insurance rates in Kentucky are not “skyrocketing.” Increases for 2016 will be less than the big increases insurers are seeking in some states. Plus, five health insurance companies are coming to Kentucky. The average is one new insurer a state. New competition will help hold down premiums, while insurers no longer can drop people if they get sick.

AFP claims the law is “costing us jobs.” But Kentucky’s unemployment rate of 5.2 percent is the lowest in 14 years. Unemployment declined in 115 of 120 Kentucky counties from July 2014 to July 2015. A decline in hospital employment in Kentucky has been more than offset by increases in other areas of health care.

Three newly published studies found no evidence the health care law was reducing full-time work, the Washington Post reports.

Given all that Kentucky has gained, Conway would have been a fool to have joined with Republican attorneys general to challenge the health care law. None of their challenges succeeded; the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Despite the progress of the past 20 months, Kentucky is a long way from overcoming its inheritance of disease and disability, and making health care as effective and affordable as possible.

It’s a big, serious challenge and deserves to be treated seriously in the race for governor.

The purveyors of so much misinformation and nonsense do not have Kentucky’s best interests at heart.




September 1

The Paducah Sun on casino gambling bill in the Kentucky Legislature:

It’s like something in one of those zombie series that are taking over television. It just won’t die.

We’re talking about casino gambling bills in the Kentucky Legislature. It’s only September. The next legislative session doesn’t convene until early next year. But already Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg says he will yet again file a bill seeking a referendum on an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution to permit casinos in the state.

This latest version has some new twists. Stumbo proposes a maximum of seven casino licenses for the state - one for each of Kentucky’s six congressional districts and one “at-large” license. The casinos could only be in counties with populations of at least 55,000 people, and would have to be OKed through a local referendum.

The population restriction would effectively limit eligibility for casinos to 16 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. In far western Kentucky only McCracken and Christian counties would qualify.

That’s a switch from the legislation that failed in this year’s session. That bill would have allowed six casinos, with none to be permitted in counties with fewer than 85,000 people. That would have meant no casinos in McCracken County, or anywhere in far western Kentucky.

We’re sure there’s some political calculation in the population limits, but it is a curious twist. Many states, Illinois among them, initially designated casino eligibility to small communities in economically challenged regions. That’s how Metropolis wound up with a riverboat casino license when Illinois first went down the gambling path.

Stumbo makes the usual arguments for bringing casino gambling to the state. The tax money from casinos would be designated to several causes, some noble, others politically advantageous. Specifically Stumbo’s latest proposal says 40 percent of the money would go to elementary and secondary education; 30 percent to postsecondary education; 20 percent to the state’s retirement systems or “any other public purpose as the General Assembly may decide”, and 10 percent to bolster the horse racing industry.

Stumbo argues that expanded gambling has already arrived in Kentucky by way of the constitutionally dubious “instant racing” being conducted at two Kentucky racetracks. The games, which operate on slot machine-like devices called VLTs, have generated more than $1 billion in wagering since being rolled out in September of 2011.

We’ve opposed past casino gambling bills and we won’t support this one either. Our objection is not puritanical. Rather, we think philosophically it is simply the wrong way for the state to raise money to fund its needs. We also are skeptical that gambling will generate the sorts of windfalls legislators are counting on given the oversaturation of casinos across the region and the United States.

We also think that though the current measure purports to limit the extent of state-sponsored gambling that would be allowed in Kentucky, the experience of other states suggests it would only be a matter of time before dependence on the revenue would lead to wall-to-wall gaming in the state.

Of course our arguments aren’t new either. And our guess is that the gaming bill will endure the same fate next year as in previous sessions - dying, but returning eternally as zombie legislation.




August 30

Bowling Green Daily News on the state’s historic Bowling Green East Little League team:

Our community should be proud of the accomplishments, sportsmanship and poise of the Bowling Green East All-Stars as they played on national TV over the last several weeks in the world’s most famous amateur baseball tournament.

BG East made its first trip in program history to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and became the first Kentucky team to win multiple games at the Little League World Series in the past 14 years.

While there was disappointment at falling short of a championship, there was still plenty to be proud of.

They are the first Kentucky state champion to win the Great Lakes Region since North Oldham in 2011 and the first area team to secure a berth in the Little League World Series since Logan County and Russellville fielded a team in 2009.

The special group of players went unbeaten through the district and state tournaments, only having to battle back from possible elimination in the Great Lakes Region in Indianapolis. BG East rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win before clobbering Wisconsin 13-0 in the championship game.

BG East spent a memorable time in Williamsport, where players, coaches, parents and siblings were featured on ESPN.

They received support from Major League Baseball players, including Bowling Green native Corey Hart and Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier.

“It was a lifetime experience from our first practice to now,” BG East’s Ty Bryant said. “I’m going to remember it forever.”

These 11- and 12-year-olds represented our community and state in the best way possible on the national stage.

They should be proud of their accomplishments.

There will be a lot more to cover in the sports pages in the future about these athletes as they grow and mature on and off the field.



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